VA History: Women Veterans Admitted For CarePosted: March 11, 2014
On September 14, 1923, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers’ (VHA origins) governing board authorized the admittance of women Veterans for the first time in history. Separate facilities were provided for disabled women Veterans at the Danville Branch in Vermillion County, Illinois, and those suffering from tuberculosis were accommodated at the Northwestern Branch in Milwaukee. Both of these branches became VA facilities in 1930 and continue in operations today.
Catherine G. Witter, a 39-year-old nurse who served with the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, was the first woman Veteran admitted to the Danville Branch, in Vermillion County, Illinois, on December 19, 1923. She enlisted for war service on September 27, 1918 and was discharged at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., on October 7, 1919. During the war, she was stationed at the Camp Zachary Taylor Army hospital in Kentucky. She died of cancer on July 14, 1924 and was buried in the Home’s cemetery, known today as the Danville National Cemetery.
As of December 1924, the National Homes reported that “ten or twelve ex-service women” were being cared for at Milwaukee and only a few at Danville. Women veterans were slow to take advantage of their new medical benefits, so creative ways were developed to get the word out to them. See the 1924 article to see how the Veterans Bureau (VA predecessor) placed key information intended for women Veterans within the pages of a newspaper’s fashion section.
Story courtesy: Historian, Veterans Health Administration , U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs